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Hard times followed the American Revolutionary War. A lack of hard currency and government debt resulted in higher taxes and new policies set by the government. During this time it was also more difficult to obtain imported goods such as tea, coffee, and material for clothing. Many citizens fell into debt.

Shays' Rebellion took place between 1786 and 1787 in central and western Massachusetts. It was named after Daniel Shays, a leader of the rebellion. His four thousand followers were called "Shaysites" or Regulators. The rebellion began on August 21, 1786. The rebels saw the new rules and taxes as unjust. The protesters began the rebellion by shutting down the courts to stop any judicial proceedings regarding taxes and debtors. The rebellion was a military action involving local militia representing the government against the dissatisfied rebels. Because the militia was comprised of local men, many on the opposing sides knew each other. Since many of the men who participated in the rebellion had been soldiers in the Revolutionary War, many wore their war uniforms and conducted the rebellion much as a military operation. Shaysites identified themselves by wearing a sprig of hemlock in their hats. The rebellion was successful in their first objective to shut down the courts in Springfield and Northampton, but in the end the rebellion was crushed.


Partial list of known participants:


Daniel Shays

Job Shattuck

Luke Day 1743-1801


Thomas Gould of Pittsfield

Andrew Young of Williamstown

Barachiah Johnson of Williamstown

Moses Young of Williamstown

Stirling Daniels of Williamstown

Isbon Gregory of New Ashford

Abel Kent of New Ashford

David Baxter of New Ashford

William Rice of New Ashford

Elijah Jones of Pittsfield

Joseph Chamberlain of Dalton

Jonathan Bassett of Dalton

Samuel Wiley of Dalton

Amos Spafford of Dalton

Moses Ward of Pittsfield

Oliver Powers of Pittsfield

William Francis of Pittsfield

Rufus Allen of Pittsfield

Francis Burdick of Pittsfield

Joseph Fairfield of Pittsfield

Daniel Hubbard of Pittsfield

Jared Ingersol of Pittsfield

Nathan Leonard of Worthington

Elijah Morse of Worthington

Obidiah Palmer of Worthington

Hezikiah Partridge of Worthington

Asa Howard of Cumington

Josiah Tory of Plainsfield?

Moses Harvey 1723-1795

Henry McCulloch 1751-1819

Jason Parmenter 1734-

Caleb Phillips 1755-1829

Moses Sash 1755- African American veteran of the Continental Army

Agrippa Wells 1738-1809

Defenders against the rebellion:

Gen. George Washington 1732-1799

James Bowdoin, governor of Massachusetts, organized a military force to confront the rebels

William Eustis, surgeon

John Chaloner 1758-1793, defended the arsenal at Springfield

Justin Hitchcock 1752-1822, defended the courthouse at Springfield

David Hoyt, Jr. 1757-1803m defended the arsenal at Springfield

Jonathan Judd of Southampton

Hugh McClellan 1743-1816

William Shepard 1737-1817

Joseph Stebbins 1749-1816

William Stevens 1750-1801, artillery officer, member of the Boston Tea Party

Benjamin Lincoln 1733-1810